Councils throw down gauntlet to state government over gas ban

City of Sydney Council is the latest NSW local government to consider leveraging its planning powers to ban gas from residential properties.

Council has voted to instruct CEO Monica Barone to investigate changing planning rules so that all new homes in the City must be fully electric.

If the changes go ahead, the city will follow in the steps of Waverley Council, which only allows electric ovens and heaters in new homes, and Parramatta Council, which requires all new residential and non-residential developments in the CBD to be all-electric, and is considering further changes extending to all new non-residential buildings.

City of Sydney Council heard the motion to ban gas from new homes on August 21, 2023 (screenshot: City of Sydney)

Canterbury Bankstown banned gas from greenfield sites in 2021.

In June the ACT government passed the first law in Australia banning gas in new homes, and  the Victorian government has announced that all new homes in the state must be fully electric from January 2024.

However the NSW government has ruled out following suit, and has even prevented councils from banning gas on purely environmental grounds.

State-wide mandate sought

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she was proud to support the motion.

“I have advocated for and would welcome a state-wide mandate on banning gas connections by the NSW Government, as has been done in Victoria,” she said.

“Until that happens, we’re looking at other ways we can electrify residential homes and reduce new gas connections within the City of Sydney.

“I am hopeful that the investigation is fruitful and comes back with constructive ways we can continue our transition away from fossil fuels.”

Government urged to consider incentives

City of Sydney’s planning controls already require new office, hotel and retail developments to reduce energy use, but not residential developments.

Cr Emelda Waskam

On Monday Council passed a motion that could see further changes.

It also calls on the Lord Mayor to write to Mr Minns urging him to develop a plan, supported by incentives or rebates, to transition homes and businesses from gas to renewable energy.

“This notice of motion looks at shifting away from the expensive and toxic gas appliances and electrifying new homes, which is better for owners and tenants and can help the city reach our target of net zero by 2035,” Cr Emelda Waskam said.

“It asks the CEO to investigate the opportunities and challenges of amending city of Sydney planning controls to require all new residential developments, and development not captured by the city’s new net zero planning controls, to be all electric, and report back to the council via a CEO update including next steps as soon as possible.”

Cr Sylvie Ellsmore, who seconded the motion, described it as “a really exciting step for the city” and said it was important for councils to show leadership on the issue.

“We are facing a state government that has decided it’s not going to impose a statewide gas ban,” she said.

“It’s also stopped councils from trying to ban gas on environmental grounds alone. But quite frankly … there are enormous health and economic impacts which are a very strong basis on which we should be banning gas not just in new residential but in commercial properties as well.”

Anti-fossil fuel advocacy group 350 Australia, which has been campaigning for local government action on gas, says research it commissioned shows a City of Sydney ban could cut carbon emissions across the City by 1.7 million tonnes over the 40 year life of a dwelling.

That would amount to 24.1 million tonnes statewide if all councils currently on the gas network took similar action, the organisation said.

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One thought on “Councils throw down gauntlet to state government over gas ban

  1. Why stop at new homes? Why not stop the sale of methane-producing appliances in all retail stores Australia-wide? Products like gas BBQs, outdoor gas heaters, new gas stoves, new hot water systems offered for sale in retail outlets all need to be banned if we are to make a real difference.

    A lot of people don’t realise that gas isn’t the “clean energy alternative” that the fossil fuel companies keep advertising it is. In fact, it’s the most toxic form of fuel there is, being 80 times more harmful to the environment than CO2 and staying around for at least 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. It is responsible for more than 25 per cent of the global warming we are experiencing today.

    But let’s not stop at banning gas appliances – let’s also ban the use and sale of wood-burning stoves because they are just as harmful to both the environment and to people’s health.

    Wood-burning stoves emit dangerous air pollutants and fine particles that can enter the lungs and bloodstream causing many serious diseases in humans including cancer.

    Until such time as each and every person looks at the way they live their lives, how they cook their food, how they shower, how they keep warm and how they entertain at home and make changes to adopt cleaner alternatives in every aspect of their day-to-day lives, we will get nowhere fast.

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